National Geographic : 1920 Aug
VOL. XXXVIII, No. 2 WASHINGTON AUGUST, 1920 ANTIOCH THE GLORIOUS BY WILLIAM H. HALL AUTHOR OF "UNDER THE IEEL OF THE TURK" IF THE land of the Garden of Eden is half so fertile and well watered to day as it was in the time of its first occupants, its possession is well worth the hardships of a long and difficult military campaign. When the British Army en tered the city of Bagdad, in the spring of 1917, Eden was won and made a part of the British Empire. For the production of cotton, corn, and dates, the Valley of Mesopotamia is un surpassed, and, according to all calcula tions, it is still capable of supporting a population of fifty millions, whose main occupation would be the cultivation of the soil and the preparation of the abundant products of this most wonderfully fertile region for the markets of the world. Some of the products of this valley go out by way of the Persian Gulf and are consumed in India, but by far the greater portion will eventually go westward, to supply the looms of Europe or to feed and clothe her industrial millions. FORTUNE'S WHEEL TURNS TO ANTIOCH ONCE MORE The natural outlet for all this wealth is not the long haul over the Bagdad Railway to Smyrna and Constantinople, some 1,500 miles, but the short haul, past the city of Aleppo, to some harbor of the Mediterranean coast-Alexandretta, where the great Macedonian brought final defeat to the Persian hordes, or to the ancient harbor of Seleucia, seaport of the city of Antioch. For a thousand years Antioch was the capital city that ruled the industries, trade, and commerce of the Euphrates and Tigris valleys. And now the turn of Fortune's wheel is again about to di rect the stream of trade past her doors. While this is being written a large force of Arab and Turkish Nationalists is lying behind the ancient walls of Justinian that surround the modern city of Antioch. Within the city a little force of some 500 French soldiers is holding back the be siegers. In the days of its glory the people of Antioch were gathered in the great thea ter listening to a famous actress while the Persians were besieging the city. They trusted to their splendid fortifica tions and feared naught. At a point in the play the actress paused, while, with arm outstretched toward the mountain above the city, she exclaimed, "Behold, the Persians are come !" There was great applause, the audience thinking it a fine bit of stage play; but as a shower of ar rows darkened the sky, the people turned to behold that instead of play it was reality. The enemy was within the walls, and plunder and destruction had already begun. THE CITY OF BEN IIUR'S TRIUMPH When we read the story of Ben Hur and follow him about the streets of that splendid city, or enter with him the pal aces of the rich, or see Messala gaming with his friends in the magnificent palace THE COPYHT NATIONAL EOPH SOET WHINTON C SMAGAZHEE • COPYRIGHT.1920.BY NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSOCIETY.WASHINGTON.D . C .